J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Fonthill: A Shelter in the Grounds, with a Flock of Sheep and Shepherd 1799

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Fonthill: A Shelter in the Grounds, with a Flock of Sheep and Shepherd 1799
Turner Bequest XLVII 47
Pencil and watercolour on white wove paper, 334 x 467 mm
Stamped in black ‘XLVII 47’ bottom right
The barn or bothy shown in this relatively highly worked drawing seems to have been constructed by laying planks or beams between trees, using an existing clump or spinney for the purpose, so that the uprights are the stems of growing trees. Working with the page turned horizontally, Turner exploits contrasts of light and shade with economical washes of grey and brown, to create a self-consciously composed subject reminiscent of Peter Paul Rubens’s Winter, of about 1618 (Royal Collection), which he may well have known; it had been in the Royal Collection since the mid-eighteenth century, when it was acquired by Frederick, Prince of Wales. Its unusual composition, looking out from a barn on to a snowy farmyard, the scene framed by the timbers of the barn itself, was to exert considerable influence on later watercolourists, notably Robert Hills (1769–1844) and Samuel Palmer (1805–1881).
Turner seems to have taken special pleasure in depicting Fonthill as a distant structure seen beyond a screen of trees; see also D02180, D02190, D02223 and D02228 (Turner Bequest XLVII 3, 13, 46, 51) in this sketchbook.
Technical notes:
For a proposed sequence for the leaves of the disbound Fonthill sketchbook, with this page as folio 12, see the Introduction.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Fonthill: A Shelter in the Grounds, with a Flock of Sheep and Shepherd 1799 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-fonthill-a-shelter-in-the-grounds-with-a-flock-of-sheep-and-r1174228, accessed 23 July 2019.